I previously mentioned that the Science Museum in London is peddling quackery — they have exhibits that purportedly present nonsense like homeopathy and acupuncture as reasonable potential alternative treatments for some people. Since then, the Science Museum strove pitifully to cover their butts with some excuses, excuses that fall flat. I’ve seen photographs of the exhibits, and they go beyond objective anthropological reportage to uncritical acceptance of woo and the presentation of anecdotes as validating evidence. They should be deeply, horribly embarrassed, and should be looking into the biases of the people who designed the exhibit.
It’s one thing to discuss cultural practices as part of the story of that culture; it’s yet another to use the excuse of myth or sociology to uncritically present bad methods as if they are scientifically valid. The reason we should go to a legitimate science museum is to see the evidence and learn about the scientific reasoning behind it. Discarding critical thinking and whitewashing quackery is the antithesis of a real museum; it does draw in crowds, I’m sure (see the Creation “Museum” for a beautiful example), but at the cost of your integrity and the respect of the scientific community.
Marianne Baker and Alex Davenport have a reply to the Science Museum. I hope they pay attention instead of scrabbling to make more excuses. I’ve been to the Science Museum, lovely place, lots of fine exhibits…I wouldn’t want to have to start referring to it with “museum” always in quotes, if you know what I mean.